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4- The 1880's
The Gates of Hell was a melting pot in which Rodin mixed countless figures. It was also a tremendous repertory of forms that the sculptor drew on throughout his career.
The small group entitled Fugit Amor, which appears twice on The Gates of Hell, was thus used again independently, mounted on diverse bases. This tragic image of a man clinging onto a woman who is attempting to flee his embrace was incredibly popular in the 1880s.
While Dante’s Hell was Rodin’s original source of inspiration, Baudelaire soon played a fundamental role. The I Am Beautiful group, a combination of The Falling Man and Crouching Woman, testifies to the poet’s influence, since its title was taken from the opening words of “Beauty”, one of the poems in Flowers of Evil.
Numerous works reveal the immense care taken by Rodin to depict the human body, reflecting both a person’s frame of mind and the passage of time. Modelled during the intense creative process of The Gates of Hell, the Antoni Roux Idyll (named after its first owner) and She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife thus represent two contrasting images of the female body, a subject of endless fascination for Rodin.
In the busts that he modelled during this period, Rodin demonstrated his great skill as a portraitist. The variety of styles and expressions is extraordinary, as can be seen from two very different portraits that he exhibited at the Salon of 1882: the exuberant bust of Carrier-Belleuse forms a sharp contrast with the dignified likeness of the painter Jean-Paul Laurens.